April 14, 2009
The New York Times reports today on a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showing that drivers who opt for minicars increase the chance of injury in a collision. To reinforce and quantify what we already knew through common sense, the institute conducted tests in which mincars collided with mid-sized cars while both cars were traveling at 40 mph. The laws of physics being the stubborn things they are, the midsized cars sustained much less damage.
This information will have as much impact on me as the known hazards of tobacco have on inveterate smokers. When Pat and I got married, she had a 1962 Corvair that looked a lot like the ’63 model in the photo above and I had a ’61 Volkwagen Beetle. We drove a lot of full-size and mid-size cars after that, but I always preferred the smaller models, and the more manual gears the car has, the better I like it. You can’t beat the small car in almost any situation except street racing, and I got that out of my system a long time ago. Now, we have a Chrysler that I drive only when I have to and a 1999 blue Beetle with 165,000 miles that I would marry if I were a single man.
The Times reported some questions raised about the institute’s study – for instance, that the collisions were head-on, which is relatively unusual. The institute had two recommendations: reduce speed limits and reduce horsepower. Neither one will fly, and that’s because there are so many self-absorbed, self-important drivers who prove their superiority over the rest of us by behaving irresponsibly while they’re on the road. They live for the weight and power. The vehicles, after all, don’t cause the accidents.
All of which reminds me of The Playmates’ 1958 hit, of which these were the last two stanzas:
Now we were doing a hundred and ten
This certainly was a race
For a Rambler to pass a Caddy
Would be a big disgrace
The guy musta wanted to pass me up
As he kept on tooting his horn (beep beep)
I’ll show him that a Cadillac is not a car to scorn
Beep beep beep beep
His horn went beep beep beep
Now we’re going a hundred twenty
As fast as I can go
The Rambler pulled along side of me
As if we were going slow
The fella rolled down his window
And yelled for me to hear
“Hey buddy how do I get this car outa second gear?”